Sore Throat on One Side: Symptoms and Treatment Options

Do you ever get a sore throat on one side only? Do you wonder why that is?

You’ve probably had a sore throat at least a few times in your life. Even though this is a common symptom in both children and adults, not every instance of it necessitates a trip to the doctor.

Sore throats are often caused by bacteria or viruses and can be treated at home. Your sore throat may, however, occasionally have an uncommon reason and require more extensive treatment. This is particularly true if you have a persistent sore throat or just experience pain in one specific area of your throat.

This article will focus on some uncommon causes of sore throats, including issues that may only result in sore throat on one side or in a specific region of your throat, why salt water helps a sore throat, and can allergies cause sore throat along with other possible treatments.

Signs and Symptoms of Sore Throat on One Side

There are many symptoms associated with having a sore throat. However, according to the underlying cause, different symptoms may manifest. Here are some specific signs and symptoms of a sore throat that you might encounter.

Pain or Discomfort

You may feel pain, irritation, or discomfort on one side of your throat, particularly when swallowing or speaking.

Swelling and Redness

The affected side of your throat may appear swollen and red.

Difficulty Swallowing

Due to the inflammation, you might experience difficulty swallowing, especially on the affected side.

Tonsil Changes

If the sore throat is related to tonsillitis or peritonsillar abscess, one of your tonsils might be visibly larger or more inflamed than the other.

Ear Pain

Pain in one ear is a common symptom of a sore throat on one side. The ear and throat share nerve pathways, so throat inflammation can cause referred pain in the ear.

Unilateral Headache

Moreover, in some cases, a sore throat on one side might be accompanied by a headache focused on the same side.


An infection like strep throat can cause a sore throat, fever, fatigue, and other systemic symptoms, including body aches and fatigue.

Voice Changes

Hoarseness or changes in your voice quality may occur due to irritation in your throat.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

The lymph nodes on the affected side of your neck may become swollen and tender.

Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Bacterial infections in the throat can lead to bad breath.

White Patches or Exudate

In cases of bacterial infections like strep throat, you may notice white patches or exudate on the tonsils or the back of your throat.

Postnasal Drip

If the sore throat is caused by allergies or sinus drainage, you may experience a sensation of mucus running down the back of your throat.

Causes Of Sore Throat On One Side

Numerous conditions can result in sore throats on one side. Although these causes are common, it’s crucial to remember that only a qualified healthcare professional should provide an appropriate diagnosis. One-sided painful throat probable causes include:

Viral Infections

Viruses like the common cold or the flu are the most frequent causes of sore throats. These viruses can inflame the throat, resulting in irritation and agony, and frequently only affect one side at first before spreading.

Bacterial Infections

One side of the throat may become irritated from certain bacterial infections, such as strep throat (produced by the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria). In general, bacterial infections are more serious than viral infections and may need antibiotic therapy.


Tonsillitis refers to inflammation of the tonsils, which are located on either side of the throat. When one tonsil becomes infected or swollen, it can cause a sore throat on one side.

Peritonsillar Abscess

This is a complication of tonsillitis in which pus accumulates around one tonsil, causing severe pain on the affected side of the throat.


Commonly known as “mono,” this viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus can lead to a severe sore throat, often on one side, along with other symptoms like fatigue and swollen lymph nodes.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Acid reflux can irritate the throat, leading to a sore throat on one side. Acid from the stomach can flow back into the esophagus and throat, causing discomfort.


Exposure to smoke, chemicals, or other irritants can lead to throat irritation, resulting in a sore throat on one side.

Injury or Trauma

Injuries to the throat, such as accidental swallowing of a sharp object or excessive throat clearing, can cause localized soreness on one side.

Stress and Vocal Strain

Chronic stress or excessive use of the vocal cords can lead to throat irritation and soreness, potentially affecting one side more than the other.

Tumor or growth

In rare cases, a tumor or growth on one side of the throat can cause pain and discomfort.

Can Allergies Cause Sore Throat?

The answer to this is yes, allergies can cause a sore throat. When you are exposed to pollen, dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, or certain foods, your immune system may react by releasing histamines and other chemicals. These substances can cause inflammation and irritation in various parts of your body, including your throat.

The throat contains delicate tissues that can become inflamed when exposed to allergens, leading to a sore throat. This irritation is often referred to as allergic pharyngitis or allergic throat.

Other symptoms commonly associated with allergic reactions include:

When To See a Doctor?

It might be challenging to determine whether a sore throat on one side warrants concern. However, there are also significant illnesses that can cause this symptom. There are several non-serious causes for pain on just one side of the throat.

If your sore throat persists or grows worse after a week or so, speak with your doctor. However, this is true whether your throat is sore on one side only or all across

Possible indications that should prompt you to contact or see a healthcare professional include:

Treatment Of Sore Throat On One Side

The treatment of a sore throat depends on the underlying cause. However, some general approaches to alleviate the discomfort and promote healing for most cases of sore throat include:


Get plenty of rest to allow your body to recover and heal.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, warm tea, or broth, to soothe the throat and prevent dehydration.

Gargle with Warm Saltwater

Gargling with warm water and salt can help reduce inflammation for sore throat on one side.

Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. However, always follow the recommended dosage and consult a healthcare professional before taking other medications.

Throat Lozenges or Sprays

Over-the-counter throat lozenges or sprays containing soothing ingredients like menthol or benzocaine can help relieve throat pain temporarily.

Avoid Irritants

Refrain from smoking, and avoid exposure to smoke and other irritants that can worsen your sore throat.

Humidify the Air

Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air, which can help ease throat irritation, especially in dry environments.

Rest Your Voice

If your sore throat is related to vocal strain, try to minimize talking or whispering to give your throat time to heal.

Warm and Cold Compresses

Applying warm or cold compresses to the outside of your neck can help reduce inflammation and soothe sore throat on one side.

Antibiotics (if bacterial infection)

Depending on the cause of your sore throat, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat it. It is still important to complete the full course of antibiotics, even if you feel better.

Antiviral Medications (if viral infection)

Additionally, antiviral medications are encouraged when the symptoms indicate a viral infection causing a sore throat on one side.

Why Does Salt Water Help a Sore Throat?

A saltwater gargle can provide relief and promote healing when used to soothe a sore throat. Additionally, salt water helps reduce inflammation, draw out fluids and phlegm, and helps clear out mucus and soothe irritated tissues.

To prepare a saltwater gargle

Mix 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water. Make sure the water is not too hot to avoid burning your throat.

Gargle the solution in your mouth for about 15-30 seconds, being careful not to swallow it.

Spit out the water after gargling.

Repeat the gargling process several times a day as needed.

Sore Throat On Right Side Only When Swallowing

The right side of your throat only feels sore or uncomfortable when you swallow, which is a condition known as a sore throat on the right side exclusively. The right-side-only pain is localized and may be more pronounced when swallowing, however, it may not be painful at other times.

Tonsillitis in the right tonsil, peritonsillar abscess around the right tonsil, bacterial infections like strep throat, pharyngitis (inflammation of the back of the throat), or other conditions like glossopharyngeal neuralgia or muscle strain can all contribute to sore throat on the right side only when swallowing.


In conclusion, even though it’s a typical symptom, having a sore throat on one side can have several underlying causes. It is essential to pay close attention to the degree, duration, and concomitant symptoms of the pain before choosing a treatment course. When necessary, seek medical attention to identify the problem and receive prompt treatment. Treating this kind of sore throat as soon as possible can bring comfort and make the healing process easier, regardless of whether the cause is a bacterial or viral illness, allergies, or another issue.